Translation is what makes literature travel, particularly across a continent where more than two hundred languages are spoken and multilingualism is the norm. Award-winning authors Harkaitz Cano (Basque Country, Spain), Selja Ahava (Finland) and Caryl Lewis (Wales, UK) share their experience of writing for a small but dedicated readership and extending their audiences through translation.
Co-presented by Literature Across Frontiers in partnership with Singapore Writers Festival and with support from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
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About the Speakers: Harkaitz Cano (Basque Country / Spain), Selja Ahava (Finland), Caryl Lewis (Wales / United Kingdom)
The prominent Basque author Harkaitz Cano (1975) has published over thirty books of poetry, short stories, novels and comics, as well as books for children. His work has been translated into a dozen languages, including Spanish, German, Polish and Russian. His novels A Blade of Light and Twist were published in English translation by Archipelago in 2010 and 2018 respectively, both translated by Amaia Gabantxo. A Blade of Light explores the hypothetical possibility of an encounter between Hitler and Charlie Chaplin, whose film The Great Dictator is a thorn in Hitler’s side. Twist is set in the politically charged climate of the 1980s in the Basque Country, providing a multi-vocal account of the conscience of a society in turmoil. He is also scriptwriter and translator, and has translated into Basque work s by Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Allen Ginsberg, among others. He collaborates with artists, musicians and theatre people producing works for stage and performing his poetry.
Selja Ahava (1974) is a fiction author and scriptwriter from Finland. Her debut novel, The Day the Whale Swam through London was awarded the Laila Hirvisaari Prize in 2010. Her second book, Things that Fall from the Sky explores the unexpected and inexplicable nature of reality. Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016, its translation rights have been sold to eighteen territories and the English version was published by Oneworld in April 2019 in translation by Emily and Fleur Jeremiah. Ahava’s autobiographical novel Before my Husband Disappears came out in 2017. She is currently working on her fourth novel that examines metamorphoses, both in insect life and the lives of fictional characters.
Caryl Lewis (1978) is the author of eleven Welsh-language books for adults, three novels for young adults and thirteen children’s books. Three-times winner of the Wales Book of the Year, she came to prominence with her novel Martha, Jac a Sianco (2004) which, like most of her work, explores the lives of farming families in rural Wales. It was published in English translation as Martha, Jack and Shanco in 2007 by Parthian Books in translation by Gwen Davies and made into a successful feature film. Her novel Y Gemydd (2007) is being published in September this year in English as The Jeweller. Caryl Lewis has also written extensively for cinema and television, notably adapting her novel for the film version. Her TV credits include the Welsh-language scripts of the internationally acclaimed bilingual crime series Y Gwyll / Hinterland and Craith / Hidden.
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